Out & About
The Ins and Outdoors for Recreation in the Fond du Lac and Lake Winnebago Region
I’m fortunate to live near Downtown Fond du Lac with so much to explore for my family within walking distance. We love to take our bikes on the Fond du Lac Loop with a stop at A&W Root Beer for a rewarding treat. We explore our local parks for rock hunting and finding local landmarks like the fire station and library.
The Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac is a must-see destination for families. It’s a great place for kids to run and is a godsend in wintertime. One of our favorite programs is “Music, Museum & Me” with ever-changing science experiments. We so appreciate the partnership with Annie’s Fountain City Café for kids’ cooking classes, as well.
Our visiting friends and family like to incorporate their interest in outdoor activities, soft adventure, and wellness opportunities into their stay. The Fond du Lac and Lake Winnebago region offers you access to six recreational trails with over fifty miles for hiking, bicycling, walking, nature exploration, bird watching, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
We plan our day or week around some summer fun at Fond du Lac’s 400-acre Lakeside Park on Lake Winnebago, one of the country’s largest inland lakes. The park features a walk-up lighthouse, picnic area, shelters, pavilion, kid’s zip line, petting zoo, marina, handicapped-accessible fishing platforms, and kayak and pedal boat rentals. Our family’s fave is a nostalgic ride on the miniature train and a spin on the antique carousel. Each December we return to stroll thru the park glowing with thousands of holiday lights, animated displays, and holiday music.
Here is an Insider tip that many people don’t know about! One of the most popular areas for locals is the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum featuring over forty acres that include a wildlife pond, interactive trails, walking paths, monthly education programs, and volunteer opportunities. Located at the UW Oshkosh, Fond du Lac Campus, the Arboretum is composed of over thirty-seven acres of native prairie. The Arboretum serves as an outdoor recreation facility with signs introducing visitors to the prairie. You can arrange for a docent in advance to serve as an interpretive guide or strike out on your own for some bird watching, bicycling, cross country skiing, hiking, sledding or snowshoeing.
Our family is always ready to introduce our guests to the world-famous glacial landscape within an easy drive of Fond du Lac. This might not seem like such a big deal until you consider that walking across the high ridge of an esker, or peering down into a kettle lake is a bit like time travel, giving you a peek into how the landscape of Wisconsin was formed. The almost 30,000 acres of the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest contains some of the most stellar glacial remnants of the last Ice Age. In fact, this region was formed as two tongue-shaped ice sheets collided, creating a valley of ice some 10,000 years ago. As these huge sheets of ice melted, the meltwater cascaded into crevasses carrying sand, gravel, and boulders, depositing them along the way. This is what shaped the rolling ridges and deep kettles – large crater-like depressions – that make up the topography of this beautiful forest.
We then head west to travel through time as we explore the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center – an important bird and wildlife sanctuary to get a glimpse of the marsh thousands of years before the area was settled. After gaining a singularly thrilling perspective on the management and conservation occurring in the marsh, we continue on to the Marsh Haven Nature Center, three miles east of Waupun on the north end of the marsh. I suggest you hike the trails to fully appreciate where nature is valued, conserved and celebrated.
In our digital society, it’s important to get the kids outside and exploring the community. The Little Farmer offers a multitude of activities that keep our kids moving for hours. Our favorite activities include; petting the goats, choosing the perfect pumpkin, apple picking, running through the corn maze and taking a hayride. Try to go on a weekday. The weekends are packed with families from far and near.
Just minutes away from Main Street is the beautiful YMCA offering swim lessons year-round. This is especially appreciated during our long Wisconsin winters.
For the more sedate “outdoor” traveler who likes their adventure from the inside of a car with short stops to take in nature, you can plan a visit to a corn maze, stop to pick apples, or take a hayride on a farm.
For more information about Fond du Lac and Lake Winnebago region go to www.fdl.com
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